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Anthology of American Folk Music (Edited by Harry Smith) Box set, Original recording remastered


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Audio CD, Box set, Original recording remastered, August 19, 1997
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Frequently Bought Together

Anthology of American Folk Music (Edited by Harry Smith) + Anthology Of American Folk Music Volume 4 (Edited By Harry Smith) + Classic Mountain Songs from Smithsonian Folkways
Price for all three: $120.31

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 19, 1997)
  • Number of Discs: 6
  • Format: Box set, Original recording remastered
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: Smithsonian Folkways
  • ASIN: B000001DJU
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,736 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Over 50 years after its original 1952 vinyl release, this is still the best American roots music collection around! Musicologist Harry Smith assembled the anthology from 78 rpm discs issued between 1927 and 1935. This 6-CD reissue was painstakingly researched, annotated and packaged to perfection. With 84 rare tracks, this one is a library all by itself! Includes Drunkard's Special Coley Jones; Peg and Awl Carolina Tar Heels; Frankie Mississippi John Hurt; Engine 143 Carter Family; Indian War Whoop Hoyt Ming & His Pep-Steppers; Newport Blues Cincinnati Jug Band; John the Revelator Blind Willie Johnson; Fifty Miles of Elbow Room Rev. F.W. McGee; Sugar Baby Dock Boggs; See That My Grave Is Kept Clean Blind Lemon Jefferson; The Lone Star Trail Ken Maynard, and many more!

Amazon.com

This impressive--and frankly, fun--musical document is still sending out shock waves almost 50 years after its original 1952 vinyl release. The Smithsonian's six-CD reissue is painstakingly researched, annotated, and packaged (even boasting an enhanced disc for the techno-capable). Unlike field recorders, eccentric filmmaker/collector/musicologist Harry Smith assembled the Anthology from commercially released (though obscure) 78 rpm discs issued between 1927 and 1935. Its broad scope--from country blues to Cajun social music to Appalachian murder ballads--was monumentally influential, setting musicians like Bob Dylan down the path to folk fandom. The White House started its own national music library with the Anthology; anyone with more than a passing interest in American roots music should do the same. --Michael Ruby

More from Smithsonian Folkways


The Harry Smith Connection: A Live Tribute To The Anthology Of American Folk Music

Classic Maritime Music from Smithsonian Folkways Recordings

Smithsonian Folkways American Roots Collection

Classic Mountain Songs from Smithsonian Folkways

Classic Blues From Smithsonian Folkways

Folkways: The Original Vision

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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An essential part of any folk music collection.
Anthony Spadaro
The Smithsonian's packaging, including a very informative booklet and a facsimile reproduction of Harry Smith's original notes, is wholly admirable.
Jon Corelis
If you have any interest in roots music, just buy it.
A.C. Medina

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

370 of 377 people found the following review helpful By Karen Newcombe on August 21, 2002
Format: Audio CD
I half heard a story about the Anthology on Natl Public Radio a few months ago while I was getting ready for work. The story kept coming back to me, until I had to buy the Anthology to get some peace. Instead of peace, I find that I am now disturbed, intrigued, and haunted.
Music is ill-suited to being described in words, so I'll use an entirely different experience to try and convey what listening to this Anthology is like.
I once knew a fellow who had grown up on Bechtel construction project sites around the world. As a kid playing in the dirt at these sites, he'd collected a box full of those stone tools that humans made and used for something like three million years. I found that once I had turned one of these slips of chipped obsidian or shale over for a moment, it settled naturally into my hand. There was a spot for my thumb, another spot for my forefinger, and my hand was making a scraping or digging motion with the thing. The tool and my hand still remembered their ancient partnership, without any volition from me. This sensation was simultaneously disturbing and satisfying and made the hair stand up on my neck.
This sensation is very close to what I feel listening to this anthology. You will not hear the familiar, highly produced music we're now so comfortable with. You will hear the voice and sound of music as it has been for millions of years -- and you will recognize what you are hearing as being utterly, essentially human.
These recordings were, of course, made only 75 years ago in the 1920's, surely part of the modern era. Yet this was the last moment in time between the old world and the new world. We still sing and play music for the same reasons we always have, but the way we used our voices and instruments for millions of years has been changed by technology.
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110 of 114 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on March 13, 2002
Format: Audio CD
The "Anthology of American Folk Music" put together by Harry Smith was originally issued in 1952 in three volumes of 2 LPs each, with a total of 84 tracks collected from old records. It is said that this collection played a seminal role in the folk music revival of the late 1950s and early 1960s, influencing and inspiring the generation of Bob Dylan and Joan Baez. Once you listen to these songs you will have little doubt that was indeed the case. The three volumes focus on Ballads, Social Music, and Songs respectively. I did not recognize enough of these 84 songs to use all of the fingers on my guitar picking hand and I could not care less. You can look over the playlist above and see if anything looks familiar, but, obviously, that is beside the point here. These songs involve a definition of "folk" that is expansive enough to include blues singers like Blind Lemon Jefferson and Richard "Rabbit" Brown. The authenticity of these songs is overpowering, transporting you to a time and place when radio was just starting to make inroads into the backwoods of America.
The collection includes a 100-page booklet that features harry Smith's original handbook of songs, an essay by critic Greil Marcus, along with other essays, song notes, photos, graphics, and recollections by legendary artists about how this anthology inspired their own careers. The overall effect is like taking a college course on American Folk Music. Whether your interest in this type of music comes from listening to the Weavers, Peter Paul, & Mary, or the soundtrack to "Brother, Where Art Thou?" hopefully your enjoyment of folk music will lead you back to this seminal collection.
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85 of 88 people found the following review helpful By "merlthepearl" on December 22, 2000
Format: Audio CD
My review title says it all. Of course, that won't stop me from saying more...
Let's just say I wouldn't trust a musician that did not have at least a passing familiarity with one of the following: 1. The Anthology of American Folk Music; or 2. An artist that appeared on The Anthology of American Folk Music; or 3. At least a few songs from TAAFM.
That said, I feel very strongly that even if you are not a musician, regardless of the style of contemporary music you listen to (and I ravenously devour current music), whether it be Radiohead, Fishbone, Wilco, D'Angelo, Dr. Dre WHATEVER, if you listen to this collection, you will hear the roots of modern music. Somewhere I read a review of TAAFM and it called it a "genetic code" for modern music, which is entirely appropriate.
As a collection of songs and performances, this collection is entertaining, educational, shocking, delightful, scary (try listening to the first few tracks of disc 2-B alone in the dark...) revelatory, essential. As a stand-alone document, The Anthology is a kind of Rosetta Stone, having influenced every aspect of popular music through the years both directly and indirectly (subconsciously, even).
It makes me think that perhaps these songs already exist in everyone's psyche...they are there, but you do not know it until you hear them. The songs are both familiar and strange, and at times some selections seem so fragile and precious, they might crumble if you listen too hard (yet you always do).
And by the way, even if initially you absolutely HATE a FEW selections (and trust me, you will...I did!), they will be internalized nonetheless, and you will subsequently embrace them, and come to love them.
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